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Michael Moore

Think Local

Most city commuters living on the North Shore are always moaning about the traffic but not celebrity chef Michael Moore, who says it's "glorious" living this side.

Michael, who owns O Bar and Dining in Australia Square, moved to Castle Cove with his wife and teenage children 12 years ago, and says the benefits of living north far outweigh the traffic congestion.

"The whole area feels like it's so peaceful and suburban," he says. "It's glorious... it's like being on holiday. Saturday mornings I'll get up and it feels like I'm away for the weekend, which is great."

Spoken with the zeal of someone who's not yet had the joyous experience of being rammed underneath someone's sweaty armpit on the L90, he adds, "because of my work, I don't travel traditional hours so it takes me no time to get into the city. I've got the luxury of being the boss so if the traffic's bad, I just pull into a cafe, read the paper and get to work half an hour later."

Michael, 51, left the UK for Australia 30 years ago with just $400 in his pocket but it's not uncommon nowadays to find him cooking for the likes of the Kardashians, Bill Gates, Mick Jagger, Dustin Hoffman and Lionel Richie at O.

"The list of celebrities I've cooked for is bloody long," he says, "it goes on and on - Madonna, Elton, Jack Jones... They've all sort of got their own idiosyncrasies. But usually, the bigger the star, the nicer they are. The worst are the ones that think they're a star but they're not really, and they just throw their weight around. I was extremely sad when I heard Jackie Collins had died. I did a couple of cooking shows with her on TV. She was really cheeky and good fun.”

When he's not hobnobbing with the rich and famous, Michael can be found having his "therapy -walking in Manly - or exploring on his motorbikes.

"I'm a bit of a secret petrol-head,” he laughs. “I've got two bikes, a Ducati and a Harley Davidson and tend to ride around the beaches early in the morning or late at night. It just depends where I'm going and what sort of mood I'm in when it comes to which bike I take."

Michael recently launched 'heighten your senses' at O Bar, which he says is, "a unique experience to get high on taste, sight and sound." Something he thinks some restaurants are lacking, apart from Mexicano in Narrabeen, which he cites as, "a cool little place, somewhere to drink margaritas and have fun."

"O Bar has a really cool buzz about it," he says. "It's fun, there's good music, a good vibe, there's great drinks - but there aren't really many good places to eat like that on the North Shore.

"You've got the Butcher's Block up at Wahroonga, they make a really nice breakfast up there, but I don't think we've got any really great dinner restaurants that have a good energy about them.”

He laughs, “l‘m going to get so much flack from people but the energy in restaurants comes from the customer, and I've had many an argument with people over here, saying, ‘When are you going to open a restaurant on the North Shore and can you make it BYO?’

“But we're not there necessarily to make your life easier — a restaurant has to be a business,”

Our interview took place the day after Malcolm Tumbull ousted Prime Minister Tony Abbott so what would Michael do if he was in charge here?

“l'd remove the fringe benefit tax on dining in restaurants," he says.

"That would stimulate the economy, meaning all restaurants would be full for lunch every day, waiters would be working, products would be being delivered and we'd be collecting GST. The lockout laws, and gay marriage and all that, big tick, I'd make that legal. Everything I would do would be to make the machine run at a higher rate and give the public what it wants."

If he does bump into our new PM, Michael jokes he’ll be happy to shout him a cocktail laughing, “I reckon Malcolm’s a martini man - he'd have a go at a really good Grey Goose Citron martini, or Negroni. I think it would be a pretty serious drink, not flashy or fruity."

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